This was near the site of Carson Sink Pony Express Station. Originally built by Bolivar Roberts and J Kelly in March 1860, it was constructed of adobe using alkali mud from the shore of Carson Lake, as there was no rock or wood available nearby. Not a pleasant job as their feet swelled up from tramping the mud in bare feet to create the right consistency! By October Burton describes "a frame house inside an adobe enclosure, and a pile of weed and a stout haystack". Very little now remains of the station but in its time it was quite substantial. Pony Bob Haslam reported on his famous ride in May that there were fifteen armed men and as many horses residing there.
However Burton complained of the lack of hospitality, as the "surly cripple" at the station refused to supply them with wood for a fire, or even a cup of water. With regard to the latter they were "told to fetch it from the lake which was not more than a mile off, though as the road was full of quagmires it would be hard to travel at night" Burton chose to forgo his usual haystack to sleep on a side of bacon in the wagon, "deeply regretting that the Mormons do not extend somewhat further westward".
Lady and I set off west on the day after Burton set off from this spot one hundred and fifty-four years before on October 18th 1860, though we were headed for Hooten Wells, where a Pony Express station did not exist in Burton's day.
We followed a sandy trail partly winding through low hills of the oddly named Dead Camel Mountains for about nineteen miles..
until we reached Hooten Wells. No sign of Lucy and no cell reception, but I found the water containers left by the Cauhapes hidden behind a low wall. Frustratingly I then discovered that I had forgotten my Ortlieb bucket so could not water Lady anyway. However the recent heavy rain had left a rather muddy pool of water - but what was that wily creature skulking in the bushes on the other side?....
..and in case you did not catch it, here is a still I made later...
Looking across the Churchill valley to Churchill Butte.
I decided to carry on riding towards the main road at Bucklands as there was still no Lucy, but it soon became apparent why. The recent rain had turned the fine smooth surface of the track into a slippery sticky morass interrupted by pools of water..
..but I was relieved and amazed to find her waiting about three miles further on - you can just see the rig on the right in the middle distance. She had managed to make it nearly all the way before deciding it was too risky to continue! So I was saved a ride in the dark.
Thursday October 20th Lady and I reach the Carson River at Buckland Station to finish our crossing of the Nevada desert!...
Buckland Station is in the cottonwood trees to the right of the road on the other side of the bridge.
The station was established by Samuel Buckland in 1859, but at the time of the Pony Express it was just a log cabin. It was used by the Pony Express until Fort Churchill was built in the summer of 1860 although it continued to act as a stop for the Overland Stage. The present rather lovely building was constructed by Buckland a few years later from materials acquired from the dismantling of Fort Churchill.
I have briefly mentioned the factors which sparked the Paiute War, and this area was significant in the events that caused them. There was already considerable discontent among native Indians at the impact of white man, and at the beginning of May the Paiutes, Bannocks and Shoshone were holding a council at Pyramid Lake to discuss the situation, although Paiute chief Numaga was in favour of peace. But on May 7th an incident took place at Williams Station somewhere to the east of Buckland's that inflamed matters. Station keeper James Williams was away, leaving his two brothers David and Oscar in charge. Three visiting men, James Fleming, Dutch Phil and Samuel Sullivan, abducted some Paiute women, one of whom managed to escape and raise the alarm with her husband who was attending the council. A party of Paiute immediately went to free the women, and killed all the men. James Williams found the bodies on May 8th, the following day, and not knowing the circumstances, rushed back to Carson City to warn of an Indian uprising. An punitive volunteer force under Major Ormsby was quickly raised, and on May 11th 1860 men stayed at Buckland's before setting off for Pyramid Lake, taking Pony Express horses with them The Paiute War had started.
However the force was ill-organised and the expedition was routed by the Paiute. Seventy-six of Ormsby's force killed, not counting wounded. Indian attacks spread rapidly west along the central overland trail, resulting in many of the burnings and killings that have already been described.